Valley girls soccer team kicks off inaugural season

Published 9:08 pm Wednesday, February 13, 2019

VALLEY — The Valley girls soccer team hosted its first-ever game as a program against 7A Central on Monday night at Rams Stadium. While the Rams lost the match 10-0 against the Red Devils, the future looks bright for the sport at the high school.

“My favorite thing, as I look across the field right now, is that I have such great leadership,” Valley girls head soccer coach Travis Engram said during a team practice three days before the season-opener. “We’ve got a lot of love on our team. The girls all love each other. They welcome new people to the team. They’re willing to listen to work on their skills. I get to show up and lead them through learning soccer, it’s kind of cool.”

In past seasons, the Rams played with a co-ed soccer squad. Valley boys senior midfielder Levi Sanders said that the school’s program wasn’t necessarily known for being successful in recent years. The launch of an all-girls team might change the entire trajectory of the sport at Valley, however.

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“I’m really excited about the fact that we have a girls varsity team this year,” Valley boys soccer second-year head coach Cullen Milner said. “Now we have a solid group of 23 athletes here who are going to be playing on our girls varsity team. I’m really excited to see how the girls pan out, they have a lot of great athletes on that squad.”

Some recognizable names on the roster include senior Chloe Barnes, who was the drum major for the school’s marching band this past fall. Senior Dakota Jones is among other returning players from last season’s co-ed team. 

Outside of the four seniors, Engram said that the majority of the team are underclassmen.

“They’re all new to the game, but they’re all working hard to get better,” he said.

With the new girls team, Valley continues to expand its athletic department and grow the options for student-athletes in the region of the country where football is king.

“I really feel like it’s showing that we’re evolving as a culture,” Engram said. “We’re willing to try new things, accept new ideas and impact young women’s lives in a positive way.”

The goal this season won’t be measured in wins or loses, Engram said, but more so as a year to develop a genuine love for the world’s most popular sport in the community.

“We want to get the culture of soccer ingrained in their heads to get them to fall in love with the game, and then we can get the next generation involved,” he said. “When they see these girls loving the game, using their bodies in a positive manner and having some success on the field, then we’ll be able to grow a program and build something that we can be proud of.”

The team’s next game is back at home against Russell County on Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m. EST.